According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, fad diets are exactly what their name implies: hoaxes. To be more specific, fad diets represent short-term quick fixes that come with no scientific basis to them or focus on one single product. When we are preoccupied with weight loss, we would try anything to shed those extra pounds down. But is that diet safe, healthy, and promoting no bounce-back? Today we will discuss what are fad diets and how you can spot one. Moreover, we will share some examples so you can steer clear and far away from them and pick safer and healthier alternatives. After all, since we already spoke about the best diets in 2017 (that seem to work), we also have to explore the dark side of the moon.
What Are Fad Diets and How Can You Spot Them?
In a nutshell, fad diets are the ones promising you miraculous results in a very short period of time that sound too good to be true. Let us see 7 ways to spot a fad diet:
1. They promise rapid weight loss
Scientific research, however, warns us that depending on how overweight we are, the standard recommendation is that we lose up to 1 to 2 pounds per week, as this is the limit of safe weight loss.
EXAMPLE: The 3-Day Diet, which mostly promotes starvation and contains rather unhealthy dishes in its meal plan.
2. They promise easy weight loss
No diet is easy, effortless, no-fuss, no lifestyle changes, no exercise, and no eating patterns modifications. Healthy weight loss with long-lasting results implies determination, self-control, exercise, and hard work.
EXAMPLE: The Cabbage Soup Diet, which promises amazing results in a surreal amount of time, while it promotes malnutrition.
3. They make you eliminate one or more food groups or eat mostly one particular food or food group
If science, medicine, and complex nutritional research have taught us something, it was that we couldn’t survive healthily by completely ditching one or more food groups or feeding our bodies with only one type of food. These are probably some of the worse fad diets in existence, as they put your life in danger.
EXAMPLE: The Low Carb Diet, which bans you from eating carbohydrates. Eventually, such diet will pull out all your electrolytes and leads to blood pressure drops, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. Our bodies need to receive all types of substances that keep them healthy. Cutting back on sugar, for instance, is a wise idea, while eliminating all possible sources of sugar in your life can send you to a hospital.
4. They require to skip meals and replace them with liquids or powders
Any diet that tells you that you have to starve in order to lose weight is a huge no-no. Losing pounds and getting to a hospital with a severe case of malnutrition are two completely different things. Besides being a billion dollar industry, the fad diet business is extremely dangerous. Back in the day, nutritionists and medical experts debated ad nauseam Beyonce’s lemonade diet. Some people tried it only to realize that starvation and getting sick is not the way to go.
EXAMPLE: The Master Cleanse Diet, which prompts you to consume all sorts of fruit juices, lemonades, and sugary mixes to the detriment of your health. The biggest problem is that it does help you lose weight (together with your energy and resilience to the environment) but for a very short period of time.
5. They promise they are suitable for anybody, anytime
Fad diets come with no strong scientific support, but show off dozens of happy followers with glorious testimonials. You should consider this a very red flag. Besides the enthusiasm that shields the hoax, fad diets pretend to be efficient for very large populations or groups of people, totally ignoring that our metabolisms and our nutritional needs differ from one human to the next.
EXAMPLE: The Blood Type Diet. You have to have spent your entire life under a rock to remotely believe that all people with the B3 blood type on the planet will tremendously benefit from a dedicated B3 blood diet. What is the difference between B3 blooded people in Alaska and the ones living on the Mediterranean coast? We will let you figure that one out by yourself. The point is that we have specific weight loss needs and specific metabolic features.
What are fad diets? Lucrative enterprises for some, life-threatening choices for others. Some sound excellent, especially when they throw in medical concepts like cardio-friendliness and blood types. However, you can end up starving yourself or suffering from tremendous imbalances if you follow such meal plans. If somebody tells you that you do not need fat in your life, slowly walk away. If someone tells you that you should eat cotton balls soaked in fruit juice, call a psychiatrist. If someone tries to sell you a miracle pill that will burn all your fat in two days while you stare at the ceiling, call the police.